Optimizing training adaptations by manipulating glycogen

Keith Baar, Sean McGee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


For decades, glycogen has been recognized as a storage form of glucose within the liver and muscles. Only recently has a greater role for glycogen as a regulator of metabolic signalling been suggested. Glycogen either directly or indirectly regulates a number of signalling proteins, including the adenosine-5′-phosphate- (AMP-) activated protein kinase (AMPK) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). AMPK and p38 MAPK play a significant role in controlling the expression and activity of the peroxisome proliferator activated receptor γ coactivators (PGCs), respectively. The PGCs can directly increase muscle mitochondrial mass and endurance exercise performance. As low muscle glycogen is generally associated with greater activation of these pathways, the concept of training with low glycogen to maximize the physiological adaptations to endurance exercise is gaining acceptance in the scientific community. In this review, we evaluate the scientific basis for this philosophy and propose some practical applications of this philosophy for the general population as well as elite endurance athletes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-106
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • AMP kinase
  • Exercise
  • Mitochondrial biogenesis
  • PGC-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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